Deformable and breakable DEM particle clusters for modelling compression of plastic and brittle porous materials - Model and structure properties

Luca Orefice, Johannes G. Khinast*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A new framework for DEM modelling of deformable and breakable particles is presented. In our approach, real-life particles are modelled as agglomerates (or clusters) of many DEM particles forming spherical clumps and interacting via a linear elasto-plastic force. Such interaction provides a finite equilibrium overlap, resulting in mechanically stable clusters after agglomeration. Since inter-particles bonds are elastic, clusters can be used to model particles or structures that can deform elastically, plastically or break. Different clusters can bond as well, providing the basis for modelling complex particle agglomeration. The framework is described, and key structural properties of clusters are defined and analytically related to DEM components packing and their material properties. These relations are numerically validated showing a very good agreement, enabling clusters to be designed with a precise structure. Applications of this model range from particle deformation and breakage to porous structures, from soil mechanics to die compaction and tableting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-104
Number of pages15
JournalPowder Technology
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2020


  • Discrete elements method
  • Particle clusters
  • Plasticity
  • Elasticity
  • Breakage
  • Porosity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)

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